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Secretary of State Colin Powell Discusses Immigration

Aired August 9, 2001 - 13:27   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going now to Washington D.C., Donna, for a news conference between Secretary of State Colin Powell who is joined actually with Mexican Foreign Minister Castaneda. They're going to talk now about this plan to ease immigration. It's a meeting -- a high-level working group meeting on immigration.

Let's listen to the secretary's remarks following this working lunch.

COLIN POWELL, SEC. OF STATE: We want to make sure that the systems we put in place are humane, that they are family-friendly, and they respect the enormously valuable role that Mexican immigrants continue to play in helping us in building our nation, and the contribution they make to Mexico when they return to their country and when they send remittances back to their country.

We want to make sure that the immigration system at the same time does not disadvantage American workers. We want to ensure an adequate labor supply for U.S. employers when American workers are not available. We want a system that focuses on fairness. The immigration system must be fair, and our most important obligation is to those who follow the rules and abide by the law. The only path must be the legal path.

We are joining Mexico in a shared commitment. One of the most important features of our work is that we see this as shared responsibility, the United States and Mexico working together to put in place this orderly, legal, humane, family-friendly system. We want to make sure that all the approaches we undertake are flexible and benefit both nations.

We got into some specifics with respect to a temporary worker program that we will be pursuing in greater detail in the months ahead. We're in no hurry. We have to do this right. We have to do this in a careful way, a way that will be seen as fair and equitable by both nations, by the people of both nations.

We want to work on options for a temporary workers program that is grounded in reality and the needs of our economy, one that doesn't hurt U.S. workers. And the program will rest on a carefully worked- out partnership between the sending and receiving countries, one that recognizes also the contributions that undocumented Mexicans are making in the United States, and that brings together willing workers and willing employers. This is an issue that will require the closest consultation between our two nations, and of course here in the United States the closest consultation between the administration and the Congress and other interested groups.

I would like to thank the two secretaries for their contribution to our meetings today. I think we are discharging the task that was given to us by our presidents. And let me say at this time how much we are all looking forward to President Fox visiting next month, President Bush's first states visit, which evidence, I think, of the strength of our relationship and the importance that President Bush attaches to that relationship.

FRAZIER: Comments there of Secretary of State Colin Powell, outlining the significance of the progress that they made in a working meeting and then working lunch to discuss issues of immigration and the border. You heard the secretary there say that they did discuss some specifics toward a temporary worker program.

The State Department has been emphasizing that there is no plan in the works, unlike earlier reports, to grant amnesty or permanent resident status to undocumented workers, kind of squelching what had been a highly discussed about this time last week. That would have been a step on the path of citizenship for undocumented aliens. We heard there from the secretary's comments that there does not seem to be a discussion of anything that specific at this time. They are looking forward to Vicente Fox's visit, the president of Mexico's visit to Washington on December 5th when he meets with the president just to take stock of where everyone stands on that.

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